VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLETTER, February 2009
Recorded FRG Newsletter: For over 25 years, the Florida Regional Group Newsletters have been recorded, duplicated, and mailed to all Blinded Veterans on our mailing list in Florida who desire it recorded, by the Florida Talking Book Library. This takes a great deal of work by the TB Library. From time to time, we include a message to all BV's who receive the recorded version to cancel the cassette if they do not want to receive it. Many BV's prefer to receive only the print copy. We get our mailing labels from the BVA National Headquarters, which can program its computer to eliminate BV's names from the TB labels. If you receive the cassette version and do not want to get it, just write CANCEL CASSETTE on the card with your name and return the cassette container to the TB Library. The TB Library will send those cards to the FRG and we will have the BVA computer programmed to eliminate those names from the TB Library labels. The cassette version of this FRG Newsletter will go to over 1700 BV's. If you do not want the cassette version let us know and we will have the BVA computer programmed accordingly. The FRG Newsletter is recorded at 1 7/8 inches per second, the standard tape recorder speed. In that way, a BV who does not use the Talking Book service may listen to it on a standard tape recorder. If you do not receive the Talking Book service and would like to be placed on the list, ask your VIST Coordinator and you will be provided Talking Books. It is a wonderful service and most BV's find great pleasure in listening to all types of books.
FRG President's Message: In the last FRG Newsletter, I mentioned setting up appointments with your VIST Coordinator. This month, I would like to mention the VA Blind Rehabilitation Centers and local training. I talk with many of our Blinded Veterans who do not take advantage of the different avenues available to them through the benefits afforded our blind community. Some feel they do not need the benefit, while others take the "Wo is me, I'm blind" attitude. No matter what the age, that should be an attitude unfamiliar to all of us. O.K., the Holiday Season has passed; a New Year has begun. Set a new goal for something you might want to accomplish. Write it down or Braille it, then set it aside to be revisited again, tomorrow. The next day, pick it up and ask yourself if this is still the goal you want to accomplish. If it is, set a date that you want to have the goal completed. Figure out what it might take in order to tackle this goal. Possibly, talk it over with your VIST Coordinator. Maybe you can receive a boost via attendance at a Blind Rehab Center or through local training. I remember back in 1997, I had a goal to learn how to cross roads safely. I didn't want to mess up car hoods with my body. Have any of you thought about being teacher's assistance or even teachers? The state is cutting back on the educational budget and planning on closing some schools and overloading the remaining schools. Did you ever think about writing a book, journal, or life history to leave for future generations to read? Presently, there are several active duty soldiers who are totally blind, yet are still allowed to remain on active duty. This is not because the Army feels sorry for them or are retaining them so they reach the retirement threshold. No, it's because they have adapted to their vision loss and are functionally performing their assigned duties. Some out there may not believe this is possible, but for those who know my military background know that I too, was legally blind and even though, was considered fit-for-full-duty the last 8 years of my 30 years military career. There are many Blinded Veterans out there, here in Florida and throughout the United States that set goals, take on the associated challenges and constantly meet them with a lot of satisfying sweat and toil. About anything is possible if the proper tool is found. You can't change a tire without a car jack. Think hard, what goal would you like to set, and what will it take to accomplish. If need be, talk this over with your VIST Coordinator. To learn how to cross the street safely, I went to the VA Blind Rehab Center in Birmingham. By the time I left there, I felt very comfortable crossing streets. I hope that most of you who don't use computers will set that as your goal. With a telephone, you can communicate with some friends, with a computer, you can communicate with the outside world, all at once. Now, I would like to switch gears and talk about membership. I would like to think that every Blinded Veteran reading this Newsletter is a Life or Associate Life Member of the BVA. If you are not currently one, please join. If you need an application, just call or email me or one of the District Directors and they will mail you an application. You may also call the BVA National Headquarters toll free (800) 669-7079 and they will help you fill out the application over the phone. Once again, telephone numbers of our District Directors: Northwest District Darryl Goldsmith - Pensacola (850) 554-7819, email firstname.lastname@example.org; Northeast District Bill Burgess -Palm Coast (386) 445-4987 email email@example.com; Central West District Gigi Mathis - Lakeland (863-255-9275 email firstname.lastname@example.org; Central East District Kirk Harmon -Orlando (407) 380-3371 email email@example.com; Southwest District John Thomas - St. James City (239) 283-1708 email firstname.lastname@example.org: Southeast District Jerry Abney Miami (305) 270-1739 email email@example.com; or BVA National at (800) 669-7079. again, as always, keep the mission alive and help one another to help each other. Check the schedule of events at the end of this Newsletter. I hope to see you at one of our luncheon meetings throughout the state. Paul W. Kaminsky, FRG President. (904) 291-0576, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: I imagine that all of you are into your activities for this year and are keeping busy. I hope that your future calendar includes a trip to Daytona Beach this May for the FRG State Convention. It is so important that we keep strong as an Auxiliary so that we can continue to support the Blinded Veterans and their programs. Let me take a little time to talk about a little history, without boring you. In 1948, if you were a blind adult, the training available in this country was almost non existent. You had two choices, living off of the largest of your family and if you had no family, you ended up in a nursing home and ward of a county or state with a blind pension which was next to nothing. Because of the experiences of our returning military personnel at the Valley Forge Army Hospital and Avon Old Farms Army Convalescence Hospital the BVA urge the VA to establish its first Blind Rehab Center in May wood, Illinois at the Hines VA Hospital. From there, not only did rehab centers spring up all over the country, many centers were started in local communities. Today, there is hardly a city or state that doesn't have some sort of program to assist blind adults. This allows our fellow blind citizens to lead productive and as normal a life as possible. This means that we must continue strong support for our Blinded Veterans, in order to keep what we have fought so hard to achieve. United groups can accomplish what individuals cannot. In addition, at the FRG State Convention, I enjoy catching up with you every year and sharing your experiences. I look forward to our meetings again.
Now, for another issue. By Now you should have received your FRG Auxiliary Scholarship letters. For your information, the FRG Auxiliary will offer two $1000 scholarships to the spouse or child of a Florida Blinded Veterans for the 2009-2010 school year. These scholarships are not available to grandchildren. Individuals who have applied previously may apply again but must submit a new application. The scholarship is merit based and may be used for college, university, vocational or technical school training. For information and/or an application write to the FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Chairperson Trudy Rothenberg at 251 Snell Isle Blvd., St. Petersburg, FL 33704 or call (727) 823-4595 , email Troodles@tampabay.rr.com. Completed application materials must be received by April 15, 2009. Please respond in time, so the Committee can have time to evaluate your request . Joyce Thornton, FRG Auxiliary President.
FRG Meeting Notice: The next meeting of the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, February 28, at the Flaming Pit Restaurant, 1150 North Federal Highway, Pompano Beach. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM, with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select from Broasted Chicken or Chopped Sirloin Steak and Salad, Potatoes, Vegetables, Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Dessert. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available at an additional charge.
FRG Vice President Paul Mimms will preside at the meeting following lunch. A national legislative up-date will be provided. Plans for FRG activities for the coming months , including the FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach, will be discussed. This will be your opportunity to make suggestions and recommendations regarding these FRG activities. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to Blinded Veterans and their families. Information about FRG Auxiliary activities will be presented.
The restaurant has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of meal desired by February 25. You may make your reservations by writing to George Stocking at: 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133 or by calling George evenings and weekends at: (305) 446-8008.You may also call FRG Vice President Paul Mimms, West Palm Beach VAMC VIST Coordinator at: (561) 422-5260. You may also make your reservations by calling: FRG Southeast District Director Jerry Abney at: (305) 270-1739, Roberta Goldstein, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator, at (305) 575-7000 ex 3607 or April Barnes , Broward VA Outpatient Clinic VIST Coordinator, at: (954) 625-8730. Please be sure to make your reservations before February 25, as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting. Paul Mimms and Roberta Goldstein are attempting to arrange transportation to the meeting from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties, respectively. Generally, such transportation leaves from the West Palm Beach and Miami VAMC. If you need such transportation, contact Paul or Roberta.
To get to the Flaming Pit Restaurant, take I 95 North or South to Atlantic Blvd. Go East 1.5 miles to Federal Highway (US 1), then turn left (North). Go 1 mile on Federal Highway. The Flaming Pit Restaurant is on the right side of the street. Parking is available adjacent to the building. Please mark February 28 on your calendar and make plans to join us for an enjoyable and interesting afternoon. We look forward to meeting you there.
US Legislative Up-Date: The 111 Congress convened on January 12 and completed organizations of the various Committees. On January 14, Senator Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, held a hearing on President Barack Obama's nomination of General Eric Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Tom Zampieri, BVA's Director of Governmental Operations, attended the hearing for the BVA. All of the members of the Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, had high praise of General Shinseki's For his military career and his leadership qualities. Since the hearing was before President Obama was inaugurated, the Committee could not vote on the nomination. It is anticipated that the Veterans Affairs Committee will approve the nomination and send it to the full Senate for a vote shortly.
The Finance Committee of the House of Representatives has been working on a $850 billion stimulus package recommended by President Obama. The goal of this stimulus package is to help restart the economy. Included in the Committee's deliberations is a request for $950 million for VA construction. These are primarily Veterans Health Administration construction of medical facilities which have been on the drawing board for some time but not funded. In addition, the VA Cemetery Service has $50 million in the Stimulus package to establish new cemeteries which have also been planned but not funded. Both of these proposals would stimulate construction and add many jobs to the economy. It appears that President Obama is supportive of those measures.
Please get a group of fellow Blinded Veterans together and join us at the Flaming Pit Restaurant in Pompano Beach, on Saturday, February 28 for an informative and enjoyable afternoon. Remember to make your reservations before February 25, by calling one of the individuals listed above. In that way, the restaurant may make proper arrangements for our luncheon. If you make a reservation and can't come, call and cancel it by February 25.
FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
February 28 FRG Meeting at the Flaming Pit Restaurant in Pompano Beach
April 4 FRG Meeting in Pensacola
May 1-3 FRG State Convention at the Plaza Ocean Club in Daytona August 18-23 BVA National Convention in Portland, Oregon
Paul Kaminsky FRG President
Joyce Thornton FRG Auxiliary President
George Stocking Editor